Participating in the trend of cutesy boy/ girl folk duos is not what you may have predicted as Evan Phillips' next move, but one listen to his latest album and you'll be so glad he did. You'll also notice that the album exceeds whatever expectations those other cutesy boy/girl folk duos may have set.
Enter Evan and Molly.
Evan and Molly is the new collaboration between Phillips and Molly McDermott. Phillips plays guitar, McDermott plays cello, and they each bring a few songs to the table with the results of a stunning seven-track, self-titled album.
Evan and Molly has been kept rather quiet, for no real reason, until just this past month. With the sudden release of their album and their first live show together just days away, you may wonder how the two musicians came to join forces. After meeting with them one evening, I found out.
Anchorage Press: You two were living in different states when the project, now known as Evan and Molly, was conceived; what musical history did you two have together prior to this collaboration?
Molly McDermott: None. Through a mutual friend, we met and Evan was looking for a cellist.
Evan Phillips: I got her onto some recording projects I was producing, so I got a chance to see her play. I liked Molly's creativity and her approach was kind of different, kind of a little more abstract than I am used to. I was intrigued.
The interesting thing about our band is that we weren't even a band when we started the album, we'd never played together. We just got together, after talking about it for a year, and started recording an album, and out of that album we're turning into a band. We really wanted to play together and we found a way to make it happen.
AP: Molly, you just recently moved back home to Alaska. Was that move inspired by your interest in this project with Evan?
Evan: She turned down going to grad school for this project.
Molly: Pretty much. I decided to change my whole life path because of this.
Molly: Well, there's a part of that that's true. Sorry, Evan
I did want to focus a lot more time on music and this was a project that I really wanted to work on. Also, I miss Alaska. It's my home. I was coming back for a lot of reasons.
AP: Now that you two have released an album, without ever having performed a show together, can we expect to see a tour from Evan and Molly?
Molly: We're playing eight or nine shows throughout December.
Evan: We're talking about playing in the spring, doing another little tour in April.
AP: Your album is kept short at only seven tracks, why give us so little of such a lovely thing?
Evan: We had enough material to do more, but I think we wanted to do less and make producing the songs better.
Molly: Definitely quality over quantity.
Evan: The number was arbitrary, we just wanted to make an artistic statement with a group of songs.
AP: Did you produce the album yourself?
Evan: I recorded it, mixed it and we produced it together. We made creative decisions on the songs together. James Glaves, from Ghost Hands, mastered it. It was an inside job.
AP: Evan's name is a familiar one amongst music fans in Alaska, but most of your projects, Molly, originated out-of-state. What else have you been involved in?
Molly: I have been in two very different bands. One was June Madrona, which is kind of a traditional folk band. The other folk band that I play in is an improvisational, experimental string group.
I like to experiment, and the cello is a really interesting instrument and I'm discovering the things I can do with it. I like to bring that to even more traditional song forms.
AP: Evan, do you think this album will introduce listeners to a different style of music than what they identify you with?
Evan: What I've heard from either friends or other musicians I work with a lot is that what really stuck out to them was the sparseness of it. There is not a lot going on, musically, there is not a lot of instrumentation. There is a lot of space in the songs, but I think it still makes an impact.
For instance, I think Molly 's vocals are really unique and I feel like just her vocals alone are kind of like an instrument.
AP: Considering how busy you two are with other projects, what kind of priority will you make Evan and Molly?
Molly: For me, this is a big priority right now because it's here in town, I've been really excited about the way it's gone so far. I think we've learned a lot from working together. Evan's got a lot of strengths in areas that I don't.
Evan: I think we're both wanting to leave it open-ended. We just want to be in the moment. We've put a lot of work into this album and we're just going to go play these shows and have fun. Hopefully be spontaneous and experimental at our live shows I'm not saying I want to get naked on stage or anything though.